November 19, 2019 / 7:23 AM / 20 days ago

Japanese stocks retreat as firmer yen weighs on exporters

TOKYO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Japanese shares slipped on Tuesday, with exporters pressured by a firmer yen against the dollar, while investors awaited clarity on the progress of negotiations to end the trade war between the United States and China.

The benchmark Nikkei share average slid 0.5% to 23,292.65 and the broader Topix fell 0.2% at 1,696.73.

Overnight, Wall Street’s main indexes were mostly flat, looking for direction on trade, though they ended the day inching up to record closing levels.

CNBC reported on Monday that the mood in Beijing was pessimistic about the prospects of sealing a phase-one deal with Washington.

On the other hand, a new extension allowing U.S. companies to continue doing business with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd suggested something of an olive branch.

Still, neither factor shed much light on progress in U.S.-China negotiations, and lacklustre trading so far this week suggests optimism that a resolution is near is beginning to run out of steam.

The Japanese yen firmed as much as 0.2% to 108.47 versus the dollar in Asian trade on Tuesday, weighing on exporters as a strong local currency hurts corporate profits when they are repatriated.

Export-oriented Toyota Motor Corp declined 1.1%, Fanuc Corp dropped 1.5% and Toshiba Corp shed 3.0%.

Semiconductor-related also shares retreated, with SUMCO Corp down 3.1%, Disco Corp falling 2.2% and Advantest Corp dropping 1.6%.

Meanwhile the Nikkei’s heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp fell 1.3% after Reuters reported that the New York State Attorney General is investigating WeWork, citing sources. SoftBank Group is the majority owner of the office-sharing startup.

Elsewhere, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp slid 3.4% after Japan’s largest chemical maker said it will pay 491.8 billion yen ($4.5 billion) to make Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp a fully-owned subsidiary.

Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma shares surged 22%, by their daily limit of 300 yen, helping the pharmaceutical sector to gain 1.7%, becoming the best-performing sector subindex on the main board. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Stephen Coates and Kenneth Maxwell)

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